Tips and Tricks for an Easy Breast Augmentation Recovery
If breast augmentation is in your future, putting some thought into your post-surgical care is an important step to ensuring your recovery is as stress free as possible. Starting at your pre-operative appointment, a nurse will give you specific instructions for surgery day and recovery. All questions and concerns will be addressed at this time. After your visit with your nurse, Dr. Eberbach will come to assess you and ensure that all of your questions and concerns have been answered or addressed. We will also give you a reminder call a few days before surgery highlighting details for surgery day. On surgery day, a nurse will go over post-surgery care with you and your caregiver again before you are discharged.
At this time, you will be prepared for many aspects of your post-operative recovery. The focus will be on pain relief, medications, work or childcare concerns, and what activities or exercises to do and what not to do. Some of the most common questions and concerns we hear are about recovery. Most patients are pleasantly surprised to learn that recovery is generally comfortable and uneventful when the post-operative instructions are followed. The tips detailed in this blog post can also help improve the chances that your recovery will go smoothly. Please be advised that even though every plastic surgeon has his/her own protocol, this blog post is about the protocol set forth by Dr. Eberbach. It is important that every patient follows the advice and protocol of their own plastic surgeon.
Positioning and range of motion
After surgery, it is recommended to rest or sleep in a recliner or use 2-3 pillows propped behind your back for the first week. Most people do not find this position comfortable to sleep in if you are usually a stomach or side sleeper. It would be a good idea to practice sleeping in this position before your surgery so you are prepared.
Range of motion is another discussion your nurse will go over with you. Many patients have the misconception that they cannot move or lift their arms after surgery, which is not true. We actually want you gently moving and stretching your arms after surgery. You should be able to reach above your head, brush your hair, and even grab a glass off of the top shelf. As long as you are not lifting anything heavy or incorporating weight into these movements, they will help you feel better faster. It is similar to stretching after a tough workout when your muscles are sore. The quicker you are stretching or moving around, the quicker you will feel better.
One of the most important details that your nurse will go over with you at your pre-operative appointment is to not use any NSAID medications (this includes any Aleve, aspirin, or ibuprofen products) for three weeks before and after your surgery. Tylenol may be used for pain relief if needed since it does not contain any blood thinning properties that NSAIDS contain. The use of these medications before or after could put you at risk of developing internal bleeding (hematoma) after surgery.
At your pre-operative visit, you will receive a list of prescriptions that we are going to call into your pharmacy for you. Make sure you pick up your prescriptions within a few days after your pre-operative appointment so you are prepared before surgery. These medications (might vary depending on personal history) will include a pain medication, a muscle relaxant, an anti-nausea, and Singulair. The pain medication, muscle relaxant, and anti-nausea medications are all AS NEEDED. Some people prefer to use Tylenol for pain instead of the prescription pain medication. Side effects for prescription muscle relaxant and pain medications can commonly cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and constipation. The less of these you use, the better your recovery will be. Every patient will have a different medication regimen based on her own personal experience, pain tolerance, and needs.
The last medication mentioned was Singulair. Your nurse will instruct you on when to start this medication, and it is typically taken for 3 months after surgery (this length of time could vary depending on your situation). In recent studies, Singulair was found to decrease your risk of developing capsular contracture following breast augmentation. We highly recommend you take your Singulair for the full course of time even after you think you are completely healed.
When you get home from surgery, we encourage you to do light activity. This means walking around the house, taking it easy but still moving. We want you to be up and moving every hour while awake. The quicker you are up and moving around, the quicker you will feel better. Avoid any pushing, pulling, or lifting as these motions require use of your chest muscles.
Most patients can resume driving within a few days after surgery. You should not drive for 24 hours after anesthesia or while you are taking prescription narcotics. Driving can resume after you have discontinued narcotic pain medication and you have full range of motion with your arms. Full range of motion means you feel comfortable turning the steering wheel and are confident that you can safely avoid an accident if necessary.
Most patients who have a “desk job” will return to work a few days after surgery while others prefer to take a full week off. This will vary for people with more intense job duties. For the first three weeks, you should not do any strenuous activities. This includes any activities that would raise your heart rate and blood pressure. If your blood pressure were to elevate during this time, you can risk internal bleeding. This could lead to returning to the operating room with a hematoma. This means no exercise or going back to the gym during this time. After three weeks, you can go back to cardio and lower body exercises but still avoid working out your upper body or chest muscles. After a full six weeks, you can resume all exercise.
What to wear
At your pre-operative appointment, you will be provided with a shopping list that is customized to you. We suggest you wear easy, comfortable clothes for surgery day. A button up or zip up top and slip on pants and shoes will work perfectly for getting dressed after surgery.
Patients always have questions about bras. The shopping list will include which type of bra to buy before your surgery. If you are just having a breast augmentation without any reconstruction/lifting, then you will not need a bra. Many patients are surprised to find out that they will be sent home without any bra or wrap. We hear all the time “but my friend/mom/sister/etc. had a bra when she got hers done!” That may be true, but recent studies have shown that compression after breast augmentation can increase your risk of capsular contracture. Dr. Eberbach recommends going without a bra for approximately 1 month after surgery. If you need to return to work or go out in public, we recommend loose sports bras that only have light compression or camisoles that have built in soft support. Some patients have even just used lactation pads to cover their nipples during this time. It is important to follow these guidelines to ensure that your breasts settle properly and also so you do not put yourself at risk of developing a contracture. Staying away from underwire or pushup bras can ensure your incisions heal properly. Most patients can go bra shopping around 6-8 weeks after surgery!
Your diet plays a huge role in how quickly and efficiently your body can recover. Eating plenty of protein-rich foods after surgery can boost the recovery process. We recommend consuming about 100 grams of protein a day. If you are not a big meat eater (chicken, fish, etc.), then you may want to look into getting a protein supplement before your surgery. Protein shakes or protein bars are good alternatives to add into your diet. Along with high protein, we recommend a low sodium diet. This means staying away from all of those salty foods or adding any salt into your diet. You are already going to experience swelling after surgery; we don’t want to make this worse by eating too much salt. Your goal during this time is maintain between 1,500-2,000 calories per day. If you follow a high protein and low sodium diet with adequate calories, it will make a huge difference in your recovery phase.
We know this covers just some of the common questions most patients have. We encourage our patients to please ask about anything they are unsure of. We are here to help make this a positive experience for you, and that is why we are here for you every step of the way! : )